High-Security Boston Lab Begins Growing Ebola Virus for Experiments

in Featured, In The News, Lab Updates
August 3rd, 2018

One of the most secure facilities in Boston is beginning to experiment with one of the world’s deadliest viruses.

Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories announced Thursday that it had received samples of the Ebola virus and the related Marburg virus. Researchers said the first step of their research will be propagating the rare but life-threatening viruses to produce enough material for their planned experiments.

Tens of thousands of people were infected and more than 11,000 died in West Africa in a 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak, the NEIDL said. The outbreak also traveled to Europe and the United States, prompting the lab to call the virus a “global public health threat.”

“Microbiologist Elke Mühlberger says the lab’s first Level-4 projects will examine how the Ebola virus damages cells in the liver, and why it triggers such a powerful inflammatory response. Answers to those questions, she says, could speed the development of a therapy for Ebola virus disease,” the NEIDL wrote in a statement.

Mühlberger’s research projects are funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the lab said.

The NEIDL was granted permission to work with the most dangerous pathogens on Earth about eight months ago. Ebola can only be experimented on in a lab with Bio Safety Level-4 containment, the highest classification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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